Marathon day has arrived, and you only have a few more things left to do: lace up your running shoes, lock in your water bottle, plug into your playlist, and run like mad.
Whether you’re a marathon veteran or a marathon amateur, you probably know that running 26.2 miles requires mental strength, physical preparation, and overall endurance. Training for a marathon is almost as difficult as completing one—it requires hours upon hours of running, sprinting, and stretching.
Although the first marathon took place in 490 BC (completed by Pheidippides, a Greek messenger), millions of people continue to race in marathons around the world. Marathon mania—a running craze—exists among all nations. Annual marathons take place in local spots and foreign places, including the following:
- New York City
You don’t have to travel far to compete in a grueling marathon race. Instead, you just have to lace up your running shoes and start training for an annual marathon right around the corner—in St. George.
The St. George Marathon had a humble beginning. In 1977, a measly 57 runners and one wheelchair racer waited at the starting line on a cold November day to compete in the first St. George Marathon. Organized by Sherm Miller—an avid marathoner who had just completed the Deseret News Marathon in Salt Lake City—this race wasn’t exactly deemed a “success.”
On the contrary, a truck nearly bulldozed one runner and only 38 runners crossed the finish line, which fell 40 yards too short. Runners ran against strong headwind and organizers feared the first St. George Marathon would also prove the last.
Fortunately, such wasn’t the case. In 1978, 378 people signed up and showed up for the race. These individuals were drawn in by word of mouth, descriptions of the scenery, and a desire to compete against other runners in Southwest Utah’s lone marathon.
Since then, the St. George Marathon has become one of the most popular marathons in the country. Runner’s World—a magazine that appeals to those under the spell of marathon mania—recognizes the St. George Marathon as one of the:
- 10 Most Scenic Marathons
- Top 20 Marathons in the USA
- Fastest Marathons
The magazine also considers it the most organized marathon and one marathon worth building a vacation around. It’s no wonder why upwards of 7,400 runners show up for race day.
So how do you prepare for such a feat? Get started today. The earlier you start training, the better. Before you commit to 26.2 miles of physical endurance, understand your limits. Talk with your physician to ensure your body can complete the race. Understand that most marathoners run a consistent base mileage for one year before training.
What is your base mileage today? How long have you had this mileage? If you want to avoid injury and have a successful race, you need to answer these questions. After you run a consistent base mileage for a year, consider the following:
- Long runs – Every marathoner should understand the importance of weekly long runs. You should embark on a weekly long run every 7-10 days—extend the run by a mile or two every week. In the running community, runners refer to long runs as LSD (long slow distance). These runs will help you build confidence, adjust, and burn fat for fuel.
- Speedwork – Speedwork incorporates intervals of sprint intervals and tempo runs. Most sprints occur at a faster rate than usual and include a short recovery period in-between sprinting and tempo running. Tempo runs are run at a fast, sustainable pace for 4-10 miles. Speedwork increases aerobic capacity, makes your running feel easier, teaches your body and brain to sustain challenging work over a long period of time, and allows your body to quickly warm up and cool down.
- Rest and recovery – Don’t underestimate the power of a rest day. Rest days include low-impact activities, such as hiking, walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, lifting weights, and cycling. If you allow your body to rest, you will be less injury-prone during the course of training. Take a rest day at least once every week.
If you allow yourself the right amount of time to train, race day won’t leave you hunched over, soaked in sweat, and terribly beat on the side of the road.
After you’ve prepared, you have one thing left to do: race. Remember to stay hydrated and fueled throughout the entire race. Here’s how you can do just that:
- Hydrate – If you have the means to purchase a hydration pack or belt, do so. Those who carry their own water don’t have to wait until water stops to rehydrate.
- Fuel – Before you race, consider carb-loading. Carb-loading allows you to store enough glucose for 20 miles. Once the 20 miles runs up, you will need to refuel. Stash energy gels, bars, and chews in your pack so you can grab an item around mile 20 and refuel for the next 6.2 miles.
Running the St. George Marathon will take you through mountain passes and around red rocks. You will probably sweat, maybe swear, and most likely cry when you reach the finish line—tired, happy, and ready for more training.